Coalition says it still has eye on cutting red tape

 
Kate McCann
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BUSINESS growth must be the priority when regulators make decisions from now on, business minister Michael Fallon said yesterday.

In a new crackdown on red tape Fallon said he is pushing hard to make departments hit the “one in, one out” rule for new regulations.

But he admitted departments which are “regulatory in nature” such as the Home Office are finding it harder than others.

Fallon highlighted a number of regulatory changes, including a new “mandate for growth” which will apply to non-economic regulators such as the Environment Agency – making regulators focus on business growth.

It came as his fellow minister Kenneth Clarke argued the EU has been wrongly blamed for a tide of regulation, instead pointing the finger at British ministers.

The government minister without portfolio said it was a “myth” that the European Union is responsible for vast swathes of needless regulation, adding: “It is very hard to find an EU regulation that has been forced on an unwilling British minister who voted against it”.

Clarke announced the Red Tape Challenge has so far identified over 3,000 regulations to be scrapped or improved and is expected to save businesses over £850m each year.

“In recent years we have seen red tape grow out of all proportion, surpassing what is necessary and costing business and public services millions,” he said.

Prime Minister David Cameron may have taken the wind out of their sails slightly, however, by announcing the list of red tape challenge achievements at a conference early yesterday.

Speaking at the Federation of Small Business’s inaugural event just before Fallon’s press conference, Cameron said his government would be the first in history to leave office with less regulation on the statute books than when they arrived in 2010.

EASING THE BURDEN OF REGULATION

The government has so far identified over 3,000 regulations to be scrapped or improved under the Red Tape Challenge.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills estimates this will save businesses over £850m every year.

Over 30,000 suggestions for regulations to be scrapped came directly from businesses and the public.

The government believes it can help housebuilders save £64m each year by reducing a list of 100 standards to 10. These currently include bizarre requirements which force some builders to include large windows in new properties in order to meet rules on light, in case residents don’t clean them. These changes are estimated to save house buyers £500 on every new home purchased, if builders pass on their savings.

Regular ladder-users can also rejoice. The government is cutting health and safety guidance for businesses whose employees work at height.

There is also good news for community groups. Hundreds of live music events will now be exempt from entertainment licensing between 8am and 11pm.

In addition, 2.1m small companies will be able to file their accounts online in 2015.

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